Getachew This trip into the depths of darkness we split up into 3 different groups. We prayed and fasted the days leading up to our adventure and we’re ready to go.
My team consisted of Amilly, Amsalu and myself. Amilly and I are always on a team when we go anywhere for the Lord HE uses the 2 of us together for greatness; more than one could ever do alone. Normally as we go into the streets we know exactly where HE calls us to go. There isn’t much talking and we just begin to walk each of us praying and wondering where the night would lead.
After passing several prostitutes which is where HE normally stops us first we came upon a man in his 40’s dressed in dirty clothes, a hat having many holes covering his shattered hair sitting on a rock. His darkened teeth showed as he smiled at us big and welcoming so we engaged in conversation with him. Soon we realized that this conversation would be a while and our legs were under pressure from holding a squat for this long. We got more comfortable and sat closer to him on the rocks that were near.
His name is Getachew. He has been on the streets for a while due to not having work. Oh how often we hear this story. This is why so many here think America is heaven. It is the land of opportunity. If only he could find work over and over again we heard. As one of us talked to him the other 2 would sit quietly listening and pray for Gods wisdom and discernment.
We began to speak to him about Jesus he said he had heard of him before and had thought about going to church but the only problem is now if he went people would judge him and think that he is a thief because of his dirty clothes.
We shared the news about Jesus and how God loves him just the way he is. His eyes glistened as he realized this for the first time. That he doesn’t have to get all dressed up for Christ but Christ came in the flesh to meet him right where he is, in his despair and cares so much for him. We told our new friend that we would be back tomorrow and confirmed a place to meet him.
Solomon & Getahoun
We got up and as we passed 2 older guys they called us over to them and asked us to share with them what we had just shared with Getachew. They had been sitting watching us LOVE and wanted a little bit of that love I guess.
These 2 guys were chewing Chat a local drug that many here chew on. It comes from a local tree and you eat the leaves off it. It’s a stimulant that is compared to cocaine due to the way it keeps you awake. These 2 guys were sitting one with a jaw full of this chewed up plant the other had finished his and was just handling the stems.
I was able to share my testimony with these 2 men. I let them know that this little white girls face they see peeking out of a hooded sweatshirt could understand their drug use. We talked about the pain we try to cover up when we use drugs. We spoke of how the drugs make us feel stronger than we really are so that we can make it another minute in this horrific day. I shared with them how the high only last for a little while and when it is gone you are left alone with all the feelings you had before sitting in your lap with nowhere to go. This was the door to be able to share Jesus and how HE never leaves us alone feeling insecure or unworthy. The hope in Solomons eyes shone as Amilly and Amsalu continued to go deep with the Gospel.
Solomon has been on the streets for 20 years. He was once in the military here in Ethiopia and that is where he met his sidekick Getahoun who has been on the streets for 10 years. As I looked into the eyes of each of these men it hit me hard in the heart. In a burst that brought tears to my eyes. This is why we do what we do. So we can lessen the amount of street kids that 10-20 years from now can say they have been on the streets for such a long period. Visions of each kid we have been a part of getting off the streets played in my mind and heart. THANK YOU GOD for choosing us is all I could whimper. With tears in my eyes I had to look away to get refocused.
Solomon says that he ask God everyday “What is my purpose, Why am I still here?” He just wants to learn how to read. He has never been to school before. We told him we would love to meet him weekly and teach him how to read. We shared with him how much Jesus loved him and had a great purpose for him. We told them when and where we would meet them tomorrow morning. Getahoun was quick to let us know that he would be sleeping until around 2 so he would not be ready to meet us but that once his friend Solomon hangs out with us some then maybe he would come to.
We continued walking just processing all that these men had shared with us and really still in awe that God had us loving on then men tonight, such a different direction than usual.
We walked by many prostitutes but still not feeling that was where we were supposed to stop that evening. So we crossed over to the other side of the road where the last stop for the evening would be. There was a group of street kids together all bundled closely together to keep each other warm. They were all different ages 12-17.
There was one girl among them. She had only been on the streets for 2 weeks. She didn’t want to go home to her mom that lived just down the streets because to her the streets were still fun and free. I couldn’t help but notice how rough she looked compared to the boy that was sitting beside her that had been on the streets for 6 years. I immediately began to tell him how he looks so good to be on the streets for 6 years compared to the others. Bereket said “I know God has taken care of me these 6 years. Nothing bad has ever happened to me when I have watched many bad things happen to those around me.”
As we sat on this mat I began to feel many bugs crawling on me. I was completely grossed out and I looked to the wall they are leaning on and watched as the bugs scattered around trying to get to where ever they were going dodging the street kids bodies.
I found myself in a place where I needed God to help me focus on him and not on the many bugs that were moving like that of an animal which would attack me in seconds and kill me.
Bereket began to share his story with us. The more he talked the more I began to realize how blessed this kid really was. He had only finished 5th grade was 17 and spoke English so well. He came from the countryside 6 years previously. He said “I once knew Jesus but then I walked away from him.” The great news we shared was that Jesus has never left him. He comes from a Christian home and God has truly protected his son.
Then things took a dramatic exciting turn. He mentioned where he was from and Amilly told me that it was where one of our youth would be returning to University in the next week or so. I looked at Bereket and asked him would he want to go home. He got super excited and smiled so big that you could see every white tooth in his mouth and said “YES I have been wanting to go back to my family for a while now but had no way”
Only God would be able to put us in the path of this 17 year old boy knowing that we would have someone that could travel with him back to his home and be close by to encourage and become a friend to him.
I am now on this Jesus high that just doesn’t budge. We show up the next day in hopes to meet all 3 of the men we had encountered the night before. Before we could even reach our destination Bereket calls us wanting to know where we were. We meet him and looked for Solomon, he was nowhere to be found then we walked with the sun blazing on our backs burning our skin to find Getachew. We were excited to see he was right where he said he would meet us.
We took them to grab some lunch and just sought out their hearts and what they wanted in life. Bereket is ready to be reunited with his family. Getachew decides that he wants to follow Jesus Christ. We take him to a local church nearby that he can engage with and walk to. It is there that he bows on his knees raises his hands and invites Jesus into his heart. We will meet with him weekly and follow up on what the church is teaching him.
UPDATES on ALL:
Bereket left this morning to go and be reunited with his family after being on the streets for 6 years. It is about 8 hours away from where we are in Addis. PRAY PRAY PRAY ALL-OUT for him. Pray that his family welcomes him with open arms. Pray that GOD will open many doors for him for his future; education, work etc. Pray that God is preparing his heart to be back with his family and that he will not listen to the lies that the streets will whisper to him. Pray that he will lean on Sheriff our University student which is just a town away. Pray that GOD will use Bereket for greatness and dumbfound all that know him.
Getachew, Soloman, & Getachoun
Getachew and Solomon have both given their lives to Jesus Christ. They are both still living on the streets but are going to the local church we took them to. They are having discipleship classes 3 days a week and attend church on Sunday. Pray that God will continue to use HIS church to empower these men from the bondage they have been carrying for 40 something years. Pray that God will use these men to create a movement in this church to go into the community and love on the street people they see every day on their commutes. Pray that Solomon will learn how to read and that Getachew can find work. Getahoun just this week has begun to go with his friend to church.
Thank you all for going along this journey with us and being prayer warriors.